Damon Pal

This article first appeared in COLLOQUY's Asia Pacific Report: Disruption at Lightning Speed in February 2017.

To generate better loyalty, they must embrace a top-to-bottom commitment to better experiences.

Take the money and run: That seems to be the customer relationship principle for many banks in Australia. It has been my experience that the retail banks in the Australia/New Zealand region have spent very little effort getting to know their clients.

Perhaps this isn’t entirely their fault, as most of them probably spend the majority of their time dealing with the perception that the four big banks in Australia (NAB, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ) already have a stranglehold on customers. As a result, the need to nurture loyalty and enhance the experience are not seen as critical. Instead, banks spend more energy being reactive, addressing complaints about inadequate advice and disproportionately high interest rates.

Meanwhile, news about aggravation with overdrafts or call-center issues surfaces with depressing regularity, and resentment runs high. It is not surprising to see that, as a general sentiment, trust in banks is low. Along with lower interchange rates on loyalty programs, there is a general feeling that banks pile on for a bad customer experience.

In recent years, with the help of new technologies, consumers have more choices as to which companies they want to buy from and how they want to interact with brands. Many banks have started to recognize that providing a good experience is good for their business. In fact, that can not only get them higher satisfaction scores on the annual Net Promoter Score survey and shareholder value externally; it can also make banks more profitable in the long run.

One way banks have looked to enhance experience is by developing a 360-degree view of their customers. With insights from this holistic view, banks can better engage people with relevant messages and targeted offers. This allows a good experience to blossom and motivate loyalty. Such a 360-degree view improves the quality and satisfaction of each interaction and maximizes the profitability of each relationship. It turns the retail interaction between a bank and a consumer from an adversarial encounter to a win-win situation.

These types of customer-centric programs do not happen overnight; there certainly isn’t any magic bullet or wand that companies can use to produce loyal customers. Good experiences happen when there is a comprehensive marketing strategy that works hand-in-hand with technology programs and the entire organization, from top to bottom, buys into the cause.

In addition, customer experience practices must always be evolving with consumers’ needs and behaviors. Engaging from all touchpoints via an omnichannel approach is key. Customer experience must be aligned in the different channels, including research, before a person opens an account, as well as at the bank, online, on the mobile app, in social media and during phone conversations with customer service representatives.

Banks must use data insights for contextual relevancy during interactions over time. Only then will customer satisfaction rise – along with their loyalty to your bank.

Damon Pal is sales director, Australia and New Zealand, for Epsilon. He can be reached at damon.pal@epsilon.com or +61 0416 196 803.

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